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Only now a Homicide
In spite of the fact Olivia Hope and Ben Smart have not been seen since the early hours of New Year’s day, 1998, it is not officially designated a homicide investigation by police until 12 May.
Detective Inspector Rob Pope, officer in charge of Operation Tam said accidental death had been ruled out.

He is reported in The Dominion of 13 May, as saying police had reached this conclusion after careful evaluation and assessment of many months’ intensive inquiry work. There is no single factor or event which has led to this conclusion, but a combination of many matters,” he said.

Though concluding that the pair had met a sinister fate, Mr Pope told The Dominion the inquiry focus would remain the same.

Operation Tam is one of New Zealand’s highest profile investigations. It began on 2 January 1998 after young fr
Detective Inspector Rob Pope, officer in charge of Operation Tam said accidental death had been ruled out.
iends Olivia (17) and Ben (21) disappeared in the early hours of New Year’s morning. They were last seen by Furneaux Lodge water taxi operator Guy Wallace who ferried them, along with a mystery stranger, to a yacht moored in the Marlborough Sound’s Endeavour Inlet.

Mr Pope said on 13 May, that the movements of the missing friends, tracking the actions of the ‘mystery man’ and the movements of the sloop remain the central focus of the investigation and are regarded as essential in resolving why the friends died.

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Accidental death now ruled out and Operation TAM becomes a homicide investigation

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